Helping the Travel Industry accomodate Autism


While
it is considered a good idea, having a plan A and a plan B is imperative for any successful family vacation with an autistic child. Special need getaways involve systematic minute-by-minute detail planning, along with never ignoring the “what if?” factor.
As such, a family with autism’s  itinerary can take double or triple the time and effort to organize in comparison to one for a typical family.
In turn, this leads many families to fall into three categories: those too stressed at the mere thought of successfully tackling so many factors, those who have already had bad travel experiences due to inadequate planning, and those who travel unaware of the needed details and who in time will fall into the second category.

Sadly, all categories lead to a common denominator; too many families soon avoid traveling altogether, especially after suffering an unpleasant experience.

Since
the key to solving this conundrum lies mainly in the travel industry ability to aid and encourage this growing segment of the traveling population: here a few suggestions that can be easily implemented.
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States and Cities

Since most states and towns have websites to inform tourists of the area’s history, attractions, activities, and lodging opportunities: adding a page for tips to help autistic families plan their vacation better should not be a problem. This page should include necessary information that the visitor bureau staff can quickly assemble and should include the following details:

  • Restaurants that offer gluten-free or casein-free items on their menu.

    Attractions that incorporate hands-on, interactive and sensory displays like museums, zoos, and aquariums.
  • Hotels that offer autism-friendly rooms and babysitting services so parents/caregivers can get much-needed respite.
    Local pharmacies for quick medication refills.

    Local grocery stores or supermarkets with their operating hours—especially if they are open 24/7 for families to purchase any needed supply.
  • Local pediatricians that have been trained to deal with special-needs children in case of emergency.
  • Telephone numbers of local police staff trained to aid with autistic children wandering off (if available.)

 

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Lodging – Hotels and Cruise ships

  • Lodging facility websites  (hotels, cruise ships) should include an added page with accommodation suggestions for autistic travelersThat page should describe the property’s  quiet rooms away from streets, elevators, vending machines, and lounges for the noise-sensitive guests as well as rooms far from any cooking venues for the smell-sensitive travelers.

 

  • Moreover, the page should describe the hotel or cruise line’s ability to accommodate patrons suffering from different allergies and elaborate on the possible existence of hand-held showerheads and extra locks on room windows and doors to prevent accidental wandering.
    .

Top suggestions how the Travel Industry can Accommodate Travelers with Autism ship
Transportation

Proper transportation arrangements are particularly important as they constitute the first step in most people’s’ travel and often foreshadow future mishaps.

Airports, Airlines, bus companies, and train companies need to provide an informative web page on all possible accommodations available for the different sensory issues of the autistic travelers.

  • Accommodations may include airline seats away from the wing area ( excessive noise ), galleys and lavatories areas (strong smells) as well as the exit doors due to limited personal space and potential overcrowding.
  • The options of pre-boarding and extra leg room seating for those autistic with involuntary or repetitive body movements should be offered as an option by all transportation authorities.

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Day trips and shore excursion operators

Companies should post detailed descriptions of the offered itineraries on their page along with the main symbols to alert autistic travelers to the possibility of potential sensory problems like excessive noise, strong smells, dark areas, strobe lights, slippery terrain and extended stays in extreme temperature conditions on the tour.
By following these two simple suggestions, companies would not only help travelers choose more activities but encourage new ones to sample more day trips.

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Comments

  1. This is the second time I’ve been to your site. Thanks for explaining more information.

  2. I think what your doing by providing information for families with autistic children is just so helpful and kind. Most people don’t realise how challenging it can be to raise a child with autism let alone travel so that he or she can have the same experiences as other children.

    • Thank you Nicolas!
      I totally agree with you on that.When we first started traveling my son’s behavior was mostly regarded as bratty and my requests for certain accomodations disregarded.However I do see a change in people’s level of understanding in the last year or so -which is extremely encouraging.

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